The Why, When, What & How to of Swag Bags

Companies are always looking for new and creative ways to grow their brand recognition to gain and retain customers. There is one incentive that never fails: free stuff! Let us introduce you to the “World of Swag”.

For those unfamiliar, a swag bag is a goodie bag loaded with free promotional items or samples. Businesses or sponsors often gift them to guests at special events, such as a networking events, product activations, street fairs, customer appreciation events, or company gatherings. New starters at companies are also welcomed with an induction bag filled with company branded goodies which they will make use of.


Everyone gets something free and businesses get more visibility of their brand. Happiness.


Conferences: When registering for a conference, there is nothing nicer than being handed a bag full of goodies. The usual notebook and pen, possibly a lanyard & card holder will usually make the cut, but the unexpected is always a winner. Branded power banks & other gadgets are highly appreciated and will get the tongues wagging, but in a good way. The bag itself has the potential to showcase your brand as eco awareness is trending now & possibly will be for a long time to come. That bag will be seen in supermarkets as plastic bags are a no-no and if it is a lovely shopper, it WILL be used, over & over. Make sure that you don’t fill the bag with items that will land up in the bin, so rather give goodies that will be used. Lip balms, sun blocks, wet wipes, hand sanitizers, breath mints and micro fibre cloths all have great branding potential & will be used. Some great products to include in your swag bag are customized mugs with funny sayings, stress relief balls, customized games, or a t-shirt that says I survived the *insert event name* conference or expo. This type of bag can also include customized treats to rejuvenate the attendees and allow them to get through all of the presentations with ease and sugar is always appreciated!

New Starters & Induction: Starting a new job can be very stressful & a little unnerving, so why not make this time a bit easier for the newbies & welcome them with a few company branded items which they can used at their desks & also to take home to create some brand awareness.A corporate branded A5 notebook with tip-in pages can be a mine of information for a new starter. The company values, company procedures, important dates, contacts & any other important information at their fingertips can be very reassuring & a much better option than a million leaflets which go missing & cause stress. The notebook will be used to take notes in meetings so a branded pen cannot be omitted from the pack. No-one wants a stressed new starter! Starting a new job is thirsty work, so a company branded mug, water bottle or non-spill, glass eco-friendly mug will be given the thumbs up. To avoid devices running out of power, even though Eskom has, include a power bank. Charged up phones, tablets & laptops mean that new starters are ready for action & work will get done, no excuses. Remember to include relevant gifts which will be useful & which will ignite brand awareness.

Activations: One may ask, “what does Brand Activation actually mean?” One definition …. A brand activation is any campaign, event, or experience that enables your brand to engage directly with consumers and build a loyal brand community around your product or service.”

Connect the brand you represent with an item that can be used for work, and brand it accordingly with your logo. It could be something as unconventional as a small refuse bin. We all have junk, so let’s give them a good place to bin it. Business card holders, screen protectors, and cell phone card holders are all functional items that people will use and see you brand and logo daily.

Make sure that the gifts being given resonate with your brand. If you are marketing a new gym opening soon, items like branded water bottles, draw string bags, cooling towels, tog bags, pedometers, yoga mats, branded flip-flops (to use in the shower), access card holders, earphones and bandanas will work well, as all of these suggestions will be used by gym goers. Great idea is to hand these out during summer on the busy beautiful beaches, where people are in swimming costumes and already contemplating the New Year with resolutions to exercise.


· Know your audience

· Make your gifts memorable and meaningful.

· Make your gifts stand out by customizing them to the occasion.

Tips that will take your freebies to an Oscar swag bag level:

Tip #1 The look

You have only one chance to make the first impression. Make it count. Align your swag bag look with the conference or event theme and make it appealing on every level. The best part is you don’t have to spend a fortune to do this. Look for the bags that are of a different size, have a memorable texture, or are made of some special material. Maybe go for a backpack?

Remember to put your logo in the right place. It doesn’t even have to be in the most visible place of the bag. Some of the best swag bag ideas include bags with the logo hidden inside, (if branding limitations permit) so people see it every time they open the bag. The unexpected twist will earn you some extra swag points.

Tip #2 The balance

The sales and marketing balance must be just right in every case. If you go wild with the fun stuff, people will get distracted and won’t notice your hidden pitch. If you put too much sales factor in the bag, they will get overwhelmed with it, and lose all the fun.

Tip #3 The UX (user experience)

Pick items that are pleasant to use. Your brand wants to be associated with things that bring joy, not struggle. Keep it simple!

Tip #5 The usefulness

While compiling the swag bag ideas list, remember to consider if the attendee/delegate/potential client will be able to use them. Think of how these gifts will improve and add value to the lives of the recipients. If these will only gather dust on the shelf, cross them off the list immediately. Sooner or later these will just become an annoyance to the recipient and end up in the bin. The last thing you want your brand associated with is an annoyance.

Tip #6 The transport

Take into consideration that the recipients must get their swag bags from the venue to their hotel and may have to board a flight with them too. Choose a light and manageable sized bag so they won’t have to struggle in an Uber and maybe leave it behind when heading back home.

In conclusion: The main purpose of Swag bags is to build trust for your brand, to create logo/brand visibility with potential customers, and to establish positive connotations with regards to your company. The best swag bag ideas are those that will accomplish all three goals at the same time, so it is time to go and get “your swag on”.

Call us on for advice and ideas should the swag ideas dry up.

“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.”

Oga Mandino

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